New Species Found In Whale Shark Mouth

An undated handout photo taken through a microscope lens by Ko Tomikawa, Associate Professor of Hiroshima University, shows a Podocerus jinbe, a newly discovered shrimp-like creature that Japanese researchers found living in the mouth of a whale shark.  AFP

 

A whale shark’s mouth might not seem like the most hospitable environment for a home, but Japanese researchers have found there’s no place like it for a newly-discovered shrimp-like creature.

The tiny inhabitants — dubbed podocerus jinbe — are a variety of gammaridea, a species known for their hardy ability to live in environments ranging from high mountains to the deep sea.

But lead researcher Ko Tomikawa, an associate professor at Hiroshima University, said he was “surprised” to find them living in the mouth of an animal.

“This creature, which is usually 3-5 centimetres long, is amazing because they can live in so many different kinds of environment,” Tomikawa told AFP.

“But I didn’t expect we would find one inside the mouth of a whale shark.”

Gammaridea are a type of crustacean, a group that includes water fleas

The researcher said the new variety has a brown-coloured body of about five millimetres long and hairy legs, which help catch organic substances for food.

Whale sharks are known as jinbe zame in Japanese, inspiring their newly discovered residents’ name.

And Tomikawa said there were some good reasons the species might choose such an unexpected location.

“The mouth of the whale shark is probably a good habitat because fresh seawater, which is necessary for them to breath comes in regularly, and food flows in too,” he said.

“And it also provides a safe place without any predators.”

The new variety was discovered after Tomikawa was contacted by an aquarium in southern Okinawa prefecture curious to know what appeared to be living in a whale shark there.

About a thousand of the creatures were found inside the gills of the shark’s mouth, he said.

AFP

Poll Finds Over 80% In Japan Back Female Emperor

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a speech during a banquet for Japan’s Emperor Naruhito at a hotel in Tokyo on October 23, 2019.  POOL / AFP

 

The vast majority of Japanese voters back allowing women to inherit the Chrysanthemum Throne, a new polls shows, as the royal family struggles with a dearth of male heirs.

The survey, conducted in the wake of last week’s enthronement proclamation ceremony for Emperor Naruhito, found 81.9 percent favour Japan having a woman take the throne, with 13.5 percent opposed.

The Kyodo News agency poll, carried out over the weekend, comes as there is renewed debate about succession in the royal family, with inheritance of the throne limited by law to male members of the imperial line.

There are currently just three heirs — the emperor’s younger brother Crown Prince Akishino, 53, his 13-year-old son Prince Hisahito, and 83-year-old Prince Hitachi, the emperor’s uncle.

The dwindling ranks of male heirs have rekindled debate about allowing female royals to ascend the throne, with top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga saying they would “cautiously” study the issue after a series of imperial ceremonies this year.

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako have one child, 17-year-old Princess Aiko.

Not only are women precluded from inheriting the throne, but they lose their royal status if they marry a commoner, and their children are no longer considered part of the imperial line.

Japan’s Conservatives remain strongly opposed to revisions to the Imperial House Law to allow women to ascend the throne.

Last week, a group of politicians suggested instead enacting a special law allowing men from branches of the royal family that were abolished in post-war reforms to “rejoin” the line, in a bid to bolster the ranks of male potential imperial successors.

The survey, covering 732 randomly selected households, polled 1,009 people in total.

The results are in line with surveys in recent years suggesting public support for a woman taking the throne.

AFP

One Dead, Two Missing In Landslides Weeks After Typhoon Hits Japan

This picture shows scaffoldings, hit by typhoon Faxai, at a parking lot at Haneda airport in Tokyo on September 9, 2019. jiji press / AFP

 

One person was killed and two others were missing in landslides on Friday, a local official said, as Japan was hit by heavy rains just two weeks after a deadly typhoon barrelled through the country.

A woman in her 40s was sent to hospital and another woman in her 60s was unaccounted for after landslides triggered by downpour struck two houses in Chiba, southeast of Tokyo, said a local disaster management official.

“She was later confirmed dead in hospital,” the official told AFP.

A separate landslide destroyed a house also in Chiba and a man in his 60s was missing, he said, adding that rescuers continued their search for the two missing people.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued warnings of heavy rains, landslides and floods in a swathe of areas including eastern and central Japan.

“As risks of disasters have already increased, please be extremely vigilant about landslides, rise in river water volumes and floods as rains will continue,” the JMA warned on its Twitter account.

Non-mandatory evacuation orders were issued to more than 340,000 residents in the Fukushima region and 5,000 people in Chiba, public broadcaster NHK reported.

Footage showed cars splashing through roads partly inundated with water, and swollen rivers seemingly on the verge of flooding.

Some 4,700 houses in the region were without power by Friday evening, while some train services were suspended, officials said.

Japan was hit by typhoon Hagibis about two weeks ago, with the death toll from the violent storm now standing at more than 80.

Residents still picking up the pieces after that storm expressed frustrations over reconstruction delays and their fear of another disaster.

“I’m a bit worried that if an evacuation order is issued, we will have to leave here,” a woman in Nagano in central Japan who was cleaning up mud told NHK.

Many of the river banks and levees that were breached during Typhoon Hagibis have not yet been repaired.

Japan Pressures China On Professor Detained For ‘Spying’

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) shakes hands with China’s Vice President Wang Qishan at the Akasaka State Guesthouse in Tokyo on October 23, 2019. Japan pool via Jiji Press / JIJI PRESS / AFP

 

 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday pressed China’s visiting vice president over the case of a Japanese professor detained by Beijing reportedly on allegations of spying.

Tokyo confirmed this week a Japanese man in his 40s has been held by Chinese authorities since September on suspicion of violating Chinese laws, without specifying the details.

Japanese media have identified him as a professor from Hokkaido University who is being detained on suspicion of spying.

READ ALSO: Police Recover 39 Bodies In Container Near London

Abe “strongly demanded a positive response from China regarding the detention of a Japanese national” when he met Wang Qishan on Wednesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

He gave no further details on the exchange.

The man, who has not been named, worked previously for the National Institute for Defense Studies in the defence ministry and the Japanese foreign ministry, according to local media reports.

On Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she did not know the details of the case, but that China “has always handled foreign nationals suspected of breaking China’s law, in accordance with the law”.

Hua said the detention was a “one-off case”.

“We hope that the Japanese side can remind its citizens to respect China’s laws and regulations and avoid engaging in illegal activities in China,” she added.

Beijing has faced accusations of using detentions of foreigners as a political tool, and observers have called it “hostage diplomacy”.

In 2017, China detained six Japanese citizens for alleged “illegal activities.”

Since 2015, at least 13 Japanese citizens — all civilians — have been detained in China on various charges including espionage, Japan’s Kyodo News and the Asahi Shimbun reported.

Tokyo’s ties with Beijing have been at times strained by rows over history and territorial disputes but have been improving recently, with President Xi Jinping expected to visit Japan early next year.

AFP

Japan Typhoon: Rescue Efforts Continue As Death Toll Tops 70

Fire department workers (C) evacuate residents from a flooded area in Kawagoe, Saitama prefecture on October 13, 2019. STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP

 

Rescuers in Japan were working around the clock Tuesday in an increasingly desperate search for survivors of a powerful weekend typhoon that killed more than 70 people and caused widespread destruction.

Hagibis slammed into Japan on Saturday, unleashing fierce winds and unprecedented rain that triggered landslides and caused dozens of rivers to burst their banks.

By Tuesday night, public broadcaster NHK put the toll at 72, with around a dozen people missing. The government’s tally was lower, but it said it was still updating information.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said there was no plan to slow rescue operations, with around 110,000 police, coast guard, firefighters and military troops involved.

“Rescue work and searches for the missing are continuing around the clock,” Abe told parliament.

“Where rivers flooded, work is ongoing to fix spots where banks broke, and water is being pumped out where floods occurred,” he added.

His office said more than 3,000 people were rescued in the wake of the disaster, which affected 36 of the country’s 47 prefectures.

The defence ministry has called up several hundred reserve troops — in addition to active duty soldiers — for the first time since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako were “deeply grieving for so many people affected”, an Imperial Household Agency official said.

The royal couple “expressed their sincere condolences for those who lost their lives… and heartily hope that those who are unaccounted for will be found as soon as possible,” the official said.

Despite the scale of the disaster, the government has no plan to delay a palace ceremony and parade to celebrate Naruhito’s enthronement on October 22.

– Rain prompts new warnings –

Government officials warned that more rain was expected throughout Tuesday in several parts of the country affected by the typhoon.

“We ask people not to drop their guard and to remain fully alert,” chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

Hagibis crashed into land packing gusts up to 216 kilometres (134 miles) per hour, but it was the storm’s heavy rain that caused the most damage.

Deaths were reported across many prefectures and included a man whose apartment was flooded, a municipal worker whose car was caught in rising waters and at least seven crew aboard a cargo ship that sank in Tokyo bay on Saturday night.

By Tuesday evening, some 24,000 households were still without power, and 128,000 homes had no water.

Tens of thousands of people spent Monday night in government shelters, with many unsure when they would be able to return home.

“My frightened daughter can’t stop shaking. We want to go home quickly,” Rie Nishioka, 39, told Kyodo News agency in Miyagi prefecture.

– Government pledges aid –

The government pledged financial support to affected regions without specifying how much aid it would set aside.

“Support for the victims of the disaster is an urgent task,” Abe said.

“There are concerns that the impact on daily life and economic activities may be long-lasting.”

Another area affected by the storm was Fukushima, where several bags containing soil and plants collected during nuclear decontamination efforts were washed away.

“Ten bags out of 2,667 were swept into a river during the typhoon, but six of them were recovered yesterday,” environment ministry official Keisuke Takagi told AFP, adding that the remaining four bags had been found and would be collected soon.

“Residents must be worried about the environment, but there are no reports that the bags were broken, so there will be nothing to worry about once they have been recovered safely,” he said.

By Tuesday, transport was largely back to normal, though some flights were cancelled and train services partially disrupted where tracks or train stock were damaged by the storm.

The typhoon also caused disruption to sporting events, delaying Japanese Grand Prix qualifiers and forcing Rugby World Cup organisers to cancel three matches.

A crunch fixture pitting the hosts against Scotland went ahead on Sunday night, with Japan winning its first-ever quarter final spot.

Typhoon: Japan Searches For Survivors As Death Toll Hits 56

A helicopter flies over cars immersed in water in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis in Nagano on October 14, 2019.  Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP

 

Tens of thousands of rescuers worked into the night Monday to find survivors of a powerful typhoon in Japan that killed at least 56 people, as fresh rain threatened to hamper their efforts.

Typhoon Hagibis crashed into the country on Saturday night, unleashing high winds and torrential rain across 36 of the country’s 47 prefectures, triggering landslides and catastrophic flooding.

The death toll from the disaster has risen steadily, with national broadcaster NHK saying Monday night that 56 people had been killed and 15 were still missing.

It cited its own tally based on local reporting. The government has given lower numbers but is still updating its information.

“Even now, many people are still unaccounted for in the disaster-hit area,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told an emergency disaster meeting on Monday.

“Units are trying their best to search for and rescue them, working day and night,” Abe said.

Later in the day, he pledged to “do whatever the country can” for victims and survivors, ordering the defence ministry to call up to 1,000 reserve troops to join 31,000 active forces in search operations.

But rescue work that was continuing into the night risked being hampered by additional rain falling in central and eastern Japan that officials warned could cause fresh flooding and landslides.

“I would like to ask people to stay fully vigilant and continue watching for landslides and river flooding,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

In Nagano, one of the worst-hit regions, officials said they were working cautiously.

“We are concerned about the impact of the latest rain on rescue and recovery efforts,” local official Hiroki Yamaguchi told AFP.

“We will continue operations while watching out for secondary disasters due to the current rain.”

 56 dead, 15 missing: NHK 

The death toll continued to rise into Monday evening, with bodies pulled from flooded cars and homes, swollen rivers and landslides.

The casualties included a municipal worker whose car was overcome by floodwaters and at least seven crew from a cargo ship that sank in Tokyo Bay on Saturday night, a coast guard spokesman said.

Four others, from China, Myanmar and Vietnam, were rescued when the boat sank and the coast guard was still searching for a last crew member.

Hagibis packed wind gusts of up to 216 kilometres (134 miles) per hour, but it was the heavy rains that caused the most damage.

A total of 176 rivers flooded — mainly in eastern and northern Japan — with their banks collapsing in two dozen places, local media said.

In central Nagano, a levee breach sent water from the Chikuma river gushing into residential neighbourhoods, flooding homes up to the second floor.

Television footage from the area showed patients being transferred by ambulance from a Nagano hospital where some 200 people had been cut off by flooding.

Elsewhere, rescuers used helicopters to winch survivors from roofs and balconies, or steered boats through muddy waters to reach those trapped.

 Japan dedicates rugby win to victims 

By Monday afternoon, some 75,900 households remained without power, with water cut off to 135,000 homes.

The disaster left tens of thousands of people in shelters, with many unsure when they would be able to return home.

“Everything from my house was washed away before my eyes, I wasn’t sure if it was a dream or real,” a woman in Nagano told NHK.

“I feel lucky I’m still alive.”

The storm brought travel chaos over the holiday weekend, grounding flights and halting commuter and bullet train services.

By Monday, most subway trains had resumed service, along with many bullet train lines, and flights had also restarted.

The storm also brought havoc to the sporting world, forcing the delay of Japanese Grand Prix qualifiers and the cancellation of three Rugby World Cup matches.

But a crucial decider pitting Japan against Scotland went ahead, with the hosts dedicating their stunning 28-21 win to the victims of the disaster.

“To everyone that’s suffering from the typhoon, this game was for you guys,” said Japan captain Michael Leitch.

AFP

Japan Will Be ‘Tough To Beat’ At World Cup, Says Scotland’s Townsend

Scotland’s head coach Gregor Townsend awaits the start of the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup Pool A match between Japan and Scotland at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama on October 13, 2019.
William WEST / AFP

 

Japan are a quality side that will be very tough to beat at the Rugby World Cup, Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said Sunday after his side crashed out with a 28-21 defeat by the Brave Blossoms.

The result saw Japan defy 50/1 odds to go unbeaten in Pool A and set up a mouth-watering quarter-final against South Africa in Tokyo next weekend.

Scotland, however, face an early flight home after missing out to Six Nations rivals Ireland for the pool’s runners-up spot.

“We’re disappointed, we obviously look at the game from how we play and we weren’t able to win by more than eight points,” said Townsend.

“We started well in attack and defence but didn’t see ball for the rest of half.”

Finn Russell opened the scoring with a try, but the hosts, roared on by a capacity crowd at International Stadium Yokohama, hit back with three first-half tries before withstanding a Scottish fightback in the second period.

“At 58 minutes we were seven points behind, but we didn’t do enough to get the win,” lamented Townsend.

“We came here with high aspirations and getting out of the pool was stage one of that.

“We’ve worked hard to go further than tonight.”

Townsend insisted that the on-off build-up to the match, in light of the deadly Typhoon Hagibis that swept through eastern Japan overnight, had not been behind Scotland’s failure to reach the quarter-finals for only the second time in their history.

“It was going to be a challenge with the team we were playing, our (four-day) turnaround,” the Scotland coach said.

“The players are professional. We always believed that the game would go ahead.”

‘Take It On The Chin’

Townsend added: “It’s always a good indication of where the players are with energy when they start and they started well, and then we made a couple of errors, and we gave Japan the ball and they made the most of that.

“I’m proud of the effort, but we need to be more accurate in the final 20 minutes. We had an opportunity to win tonight and we didn’t take it.”

Townsend praise the Japan team as a “very cohesive group”.

“You can tell they’ve been together for a long time and they know the game they play, they play to their strengths… a fast game.

“They have some really good players, ball-carriers in the forwards and some players (in the backs) with real pace and confidence right now.”

Japan play South Africa next weekend and Townsend predicted a tough battle for the two-time champion Springboks.

“They’ll be a tough team to beat, that’ll be a tough game for South Africa,” he said.

Scotland skipper Greg Laidlaw insisted that Japan had “never caught us off-guard as such”.

“We started the game fairly well, switched off and let Japan into the game.

“We’re disappointed as a group because we had aspirations. They scored 28 points against us tonight and we’ve got to take that on the chin.”

14 Dead, Nine Missing As Typhoon Hagibis Hits Japan

Fire department workers (C) evacuate residents from a flooded area in Kawagoe, Saitama prefecture on October 13, 2019, one day after Typhoon Hagibis swept through central and eastern Japan. STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP

 

 

At least 14 people were killed and nine others missing after Typhoon Hagibis slammed into Japan, officials said Sunday, as rescuers scrambled to reach people trapped by catastrophic flooding.

The storm’s “unprecedented” heavy rain triggered deadly landslides and caused rivers to burst their banks.

The destruction forced Rugby World Cup organisers to cancel a third match though the key Japan-Scotland clash will go ahead.

READ ALSO: Turkey Assault Could Displace 400,000 In Syria, Says UN

By Sunday morning, the significantly weakened storm had moved back off land, but serious flooding was reported in several areas, including central Japan’s Nagano, where a burst levee sent water from the Chikuma river gushing into residential neighbourhoods, flooding homes up to the second floor.

Japan’s military deployed 27,000 troops to aid rescue operations, including some in helicopters who winched people from the roofs and balconies of flooded homes in Nagano.

In Kawagoe, northwest of Tokyo, rescue workers in boats were evacuating elderly people from a retirement home that was heavily flooded in the storm.

One woman wearing an orange life vest clutched at rescue workers in hardhats as the boat moved through the muddy floodwaters.

Hagibis smashed into the main Japanese island of Honshu around 7:00 pm (1000 GMT) Saturday as one of the most violent typhoons in recent years, with wind gusts of up to 216 kilometres per hour (134 miles per hour).

The storm claimed its first victim even before making landfall, when high winds flipped a vehicle, killing its driver.

Landslides and flooding claimed more lives overnight, and the toll climbed higher after sunrise on Sunday, as the scale of the devastation wrought by Hagibis became clear.

– ‘Great impact’ –

Bodies were retrieved from homes and vehicles submerged by floodwaters, from raging overflowing rivers, and from buildings buried in landslides.

The dead included a municipal worker whose car was overcome by floodwaters and a Chinese crew member aboard a boat that sank overnight in Tokyo Bay.

Four of the crew onboard were rescued, but authorities were still searching for another seven.

The government said at least nine people were missing and more than 140 injured in the storm.

“We continue to see a great impact on people’s life,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

“The government will do its utmost,” he added, pledging to deploy more troops and emergency officials if needed.

More than 160,000 homes were still without power by Sunday afternoon, with around 1,000 in Chiba, east of Tokyo, also experiencing water outages, national broadcaster NHK said.

At the storm’s peak, more than seven million people were placed under non-compulsory evacuation orders, with tens of thousands heeding the call and moving into government shelters.

– Japan-Scotland match on –

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued its highest-level rain disaster warning, saying “unprecedented” downpours were expected.

“The water came up higher than my head in the house,” Hajime Tokuda, a finance professional living in Kawasaki near Tokyo told AFP.

He moved to his family’s home nearby, but that flooded too and they had to be rescued by boat.

In Saitama’s Higashi Matsuyama city, northwest of Tokyo, rice and flower farmers were counting their losses, with water submerging warehouses full of freshly harvested product.

“We never had a flood like this before in this neighbourhood,” said one farmer, who declined to give his name.

“We cannot even go into the flower warehouse due to the water. I don’t know where to start cleaning this mess.”

The storm also brought travel chaos during a long holiday weekend in Japan, with flights grounded and both local and bullet trains serving Tokyo suspended fully or partially.

On Sunday, train services were resuming and operations were slowly restarting at the two airports serving the capital, although many flights were cancelled.

But some lines remained halted, with aerial footage in Nagano showing rows of bullet trains partially submerged by flooding.

The storm had already caused havoc for the sports world, forcing the delay of Japanese Grand Prix qualifiers and the cancellation of two Saturday Rugby World Cup matches.

On Sunday morning, organisers said they had been forced to cancel a third fixture — Namibia-Canada — but gave the go-ahead to three others including a crunch Japan-Scotland game in Yokohama, near Tokyo.

Scotland faced elimination if the match was cancelled and had threatened legal action if it was not played.

AFP

Two Dead As Powerful Typhoon Hits Japan

Damaged houses caused by weather patterns from Typhoon Hagibis are seen in Ichihara, Chiba prefecture on October 12, 2019.  Jiji Press / AFP

 

Powerful Typhoon Hagibis slammed into Japan on Saturday, killing at least two people and prompting authorities to issue their highest level of disaster warning over “unprecedented” downpours that caused flooding and landslides.

Around 7.3 million people were placed under non-compulsory evacuation orders and more than 30 people were injured, four seriously.

Even before making landfall, Hagibis caused enormous disruption, forcing the cancellation of two Rugby World Cup matches, delaying the Japanese Grand Prix and grounding all flights in the Tokyo region.

It crashed into Japan’s main Honshu island just before 7:00pm (1000 GMT), barrelling into Izu, a peninsula southwest of Tokyo, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said, packing gusts of wind up to 216 kilometres per hour (134 miles per hour) around an hour.

The storm claimed its first victim hours before arriving on the coast, when strong winds from its outer bands flipped a car in Chiba east of Tokyo and killed the driver.

But it was Hagibis’ torrential rain that prompted the JMA to issue its highest-level emergency warning for parts of Tokyo and the surrounding areas, warning of disaster.

 ‘Unprecedented’ rains 

“Unprecedented heavy rain has been seen in cities, towns and villages for which the emergency warning was issued,” JMA forecaster Yasushi Kajiwara told reporters.

“The possibility is extremely high that disasters such as landslides and floods have already occurred. It is important to take action that can help save your lives.”

At least two landslides were already confirmed, with a man in his sixties killed in one in Gunma north of Tokyo.

By early evening, tens of thousands were in shelters and receiving emergency rations and blankets, though a 5.7-magnitude quake that rattled the Tokyo area did little to calm nerves.

Among the evacuees were people whose homes were damaged by a powerful typhoon that hit the region last month.

“I evacuated because my roof was ripped off by the other typhoon and rain came in. I’m so worried about my house,” a 93-year-old man told national broadcaster NHK as he sheltered at a centre in Tateyama in Chiba east of Tokyo.

In Yokohama, outside of Tokyo, others hunkered down in their homes despite the storm.

“I’m 77 and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Hidetsugu Nishimura told AFP.

“We can hear an infernal din from the rain and the wind, and a fragment of the roof has gone. For an hour, the house was shaking from wind and rain.”

Even in the hours before the storm neared land, its outer bands brought tornado-like gusts of wind to Chiba, east of Tokyo, where one home was destroyed and several damaged.

Five people including a three-year-old boy were sent to hospital, but none suffered serious injuries, the local fire department told AFP.

Rugby, F1 disrupted 

In Gotemba, west of Tokyo, the fire department said it had rescued one man who fell into a swollen canal but was still searching for a second man.

The JMA has forecast half a metre (20 inches) of rain for the Tokyo area in the 24 hours to midday on Sunday, with more for the central Tokai region, but many rivers were already close to breaching their banks by Saturday afternoon.

In Kanagawa, authorities implemented an emergency discharge as the Shiroyama dam reached capacity, with warnings issued for people living downstream.

Across the regions affected by the storm, more than 180,000 people lost power.

And everything from auto plants to the country’s ubiquitous convenience stores, usually open 24 hours a day, shut their doors.

The storm has forced the delay of Japanese Grand Prix qualifiers scheduled for Saturday and the cancellation of two Rugby World Cup matches: England-France and New Zealand-Italy.

It could also jeopardise a key match-up between Scotland and Japan on Sunday. Officials are not expected to make a final decision on that game until Sunday morning, after they have assessed any damage to the venue and transport links.

Scotland face elimination if the match is axed and have warned they could take legal action if the game is cancelled. World Rugby called the threat “disappointing”.

And organisers warned Saturday night that a Namibia-Canada fixture could be cancelled in Kamaishi, which was hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

Japan is hit by around 20 typhoons a year, though the capital is not usually badly affected.

Hagibis is bearing down on the region just weeks after Typhoon Faxai hit the area with similar strength, killing two and causing major damage in Chiba.

AFP

Novak Djokovic Powers Through To Japan Open Final

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts following a point against Belgium’s David Goffin in their men’s singles semi-final match at the Japan Open tennis tournament in Tokyo on October 5, 2019,/AFP

 

World number one Novak Djokovic on Saturday cruised into the Japan Open final, thrashing David Goffin 6-3, 6-4.

In the final, Djokovic will face Australian qualifier John Millman, who squeezed past American opponent Reilly Opelka 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).

The Serbian star dominated his semi-final, starting strong by winning the first three games, picking up an early break while fending off fierce attempts by the Belgian to fight back.

READ ALSO: Australian Travel-Bloggers Held In Iran Return Home

Djokovic again picked up an early break in the second set and survived all the four breakpoints through the match.

“I think we both served extremely well and precise, not too much chance for returners,” he said in a press conference. “Even though it was a two-set win, the quality of tennis was quite high.”

Djokovic won points on 87 percent of his successful first serves and never committed a double fault in the roughly 90-minute contest.

Goffin fought bravely, but Djokovic kept up the pressure with deep shots and quick footwork to fend off any threat.

“I trained with ninjas before this tournament,” Djokovic quipped, when asked about his apparent omnipresence on the court, during a post-match interview in front of cheering Japanese fans.

“This has been a wonderful week for me on and off the court,” he said. “Hopefully I will be able to crown this week with a trophy tomorrow.”

In the final, he will face the 80th-ranked Millman, who is making his first career appearance in the final of an ATP 500 event.

Millman predicted “a lot of baseline exchanges” with “one of the greatest players” of all time.

“It will be a physical battle. I will probably be the underdog, coming through qualifying. I know back home in Australia, we all like underdogs,” he said.

“I hope to bring my best tennis, a physical brand of tennis, and really just give it all for one more match. That’s all I want to do.”

Japan Embrace Rugby World Cup Pressure

People walk past a banner promoting the upcoming Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup in Kobe on September 17, 2019.

 

Japan are learning to live with the pressure of being World Cup hosts as they prepare for their tournament curtain raiser against Russia this week, flanker Pieter Labuschagne said Tuesday.

The Brave Blossoms have gone into very few World Cup matches as favourites down the years, but are expected to beat a Russian team smashed 85-15 by Italy in a recent warm-up.

With the eyes of the world on them, Labuschagne promised Japan would rise to the occasion in Tokyo on Friday.

“We’ve been working a really long time towards the World Cup and it’s going to be a special event,” said the Pretoria-born Labuschagne.

“Whether we’re favourites I don’t think it makes any difference,” he added. “We set our goals out before the World Cup and we know exactly what’s expected and what we need to do.

“Pressure makes you feel alive and brings out the best in you — hopefully we can show that on Friday night.”

Scrum coach Shin Hasegawa also shrugged off any fears of Japan cracking under the strain this week.

“Everyone will be feeling the pressure,” he shrugged, admitting he was more concerned with staying in the good books of match referee Nigel Owens.

“It’s a World Cup: England, New Zealand, South Africa — they will all be feeling it. Obviously it’s how we react that counts.”

Once tournament pushovers, Japan famously stunned two-time champions South Africa in their opening fixture four years ago on England’s south coast before producing further victories over Samoa and the United States under Eddie Jones.

 ‘Physical battle’ 

Current coach Jamie Joseph has targeted a first-ever place in the quarter-finals, but to achieve that Japan will likely have to topple Scotland in Pool A, which also involves Samoa and Ireland, the world’s top-ranked team.

“We have an important first step this weekend,” said Labuschagne, refusing to look past a hulking Russian side who gave Japan a scare in a narrow 32-27 win last November.

“It’s going to be a physical battle against Russia. They’re a good team and it’s about absorbing their pressure and trying to apply some of our own.”

If Joseph, who will be without winger Kenki Fukuoka with a calf strain, has looked a little fraught since a thumping 41-7 defeat by the Springboks earlier this month, his players were displaying no such signs of stress.

“I just want to play the game,” growled Tongan-born lock Isileli Nakajima, flashing a gold-toothed smile.

“I don’t take Russia lightly — they’re as big as South Africa, so we will have to show them the same respect.”

Nakajima at least will be one of the most recognisable players at the World Cup, having raised a few eyebrows by bleaching his hair and beard blond.

“I like it, my friends tell me it looks good,” grinned the 30-year-old, who has been delighting Japan fans by following them back on social media.

“If someone follows me on Instagram I’ll follow them back — all it takes is a push of a button. It proves I’m not fake!”

AFP

One Killed, 100 Flights Cancelled As Typhoon Hits Japan

This picture shows scaffoldings, hit by typhoon Faxai, at a parking lot at Haneda airport in Tokyo on September 9, 2019.  jiji press / AFP

 

A powerful typhoon that battered Tokyo overnight with ferocious winds killed one person, police said Monday, as halted trains caused commuter chaos and more than 100 flights were cancelled.

Typhoon Faxai, packing record winds of up to 207 kilometres (129 miles) per hour, made landfall in Chiba just east of the capital before dawn, after barrelling through Tokyo Bay.

The transport disruptions unleashed by the storm came less than two weeks before the start of the Rugby World Cup, and delayed the arrival of the Australian team — a reminder that Japan’s typhoon season could present challenges for organisers.

Police confirmed one person was killed in the storm, a woman in her fifties who was found dead in Tokyo. Security camera footage showed she was pushed across a street and into a wall by high winds, a police spokesman said.

More than 30 people were injured in the storm, the Kyodo news agency said, including a woman who sustained serious injuries after pillars at a golf range were toppled by high winds and hit a house.

Non-mandatory evacuation orders were still in place at 8:00 am (2300 GMT) for nearly 340,000 people, and authorities said more than 2,000 people had taken refuge in shelters.

Commuters stranded 

The strong winds downed trees and power lines, which left 910,000 people without electricity in the Tokyo area Monday morning, NHK said.

And at least 10 homes were damaged in Shizuoka, with windows shattered and cars flipped on their sides, local media reported.

Elsewhere, scaffolding was ripped from buildings and protective sheeting hung to keep construction debris off the streets was crumpled and torn by the storm.

While the damage was relatively light given the wind speeds, it was enough to cause chaos in the capital’s notoriously busy morning commute.

The overland East Japan Railway train system was largely halted in the early hours of operation while tracks were checked for fallen trees and other debris from the storm.

The storm also caused delays and stoppages on subway lines, leading to massive crowds at some stations in the busy metropolitan area that is home to 36 million people.

Bullet train services that were suspended during the storm had largely resumed, though some were operating on a reduced schedule. Some roads were blocked by downed trees.

And trains running to and from Narita International Airport were halted, with buses and taxis the only options left to those arriving or hoping to fly out.

Wallabies arrival delayed 

And at least 138 domestic flights were cancelled, with the weather even delaying the arrival of the Australian rugby team due in Tokyo on Monday ahead of the World Cup that kicks off on September 20.

The French team managed to sneak in just ahead of the typhoon and reach their training camp near Mount Fuji.

However, the Wallabies squad found their preparations disrupted by Faxai’s arrival.

By mid-Monday morning, the storm had moved back offshore and was headed northeast away from Japan, back into the Pacific.

The weather agency warned that landslides were still possible in Chiba as well as the northern Fukushima region as the storm headed away from land.

Japan is used to severe tropical storms and typhoons during late summer and autumn.

Strong typhoon Krosa lashed western Japan in mid-August, bringing strong winds and torrential rain that claimed one life.

And in late August, heavy rains left three people dead when massive floods also hit western Japan.

But this year, the typhoon season coincides with the Rugby World Cup, presenting a possible headache for teams and organisers.

Tournament rules say that if a pool match has to be scrapped due to extreme weather, it is classed as a draw, which could have a major impact on what is set to be a very close competition.

AFP